Sunday, November 29, 2009


Ah, the nicely dated sounds of those good old West Coast boys, Jack and Jorma. Gone (on vinyl) but not quite forgotten for the middle aged teenage dreamer.

So far there have been none of the customary weekend burgers this weekend, mainly due to random tree purchasing exercises and erratic football match cancellations. Yesterday it was an extended fish and chips party at a huge family gathering in the very wet city of Aberdeen. By the time we'd made it to the pub the locals were already in fine voice celebrating a rare fitba' home win over the ugly blue, ineffectual and broke Huns. Hee Haw.

Earlier we did some research in finding the "one great noise that everyone has hidden in them". A new and exciting quest and not, as you might think a karaoke or Mariah Carey based PlayStation activity. It has a much rougher edge to it than that. Anyway it turns out that the "one great noise" does tend to be a deep, sustained snort generated only by creating some unnatural internal pressures in the nose and cheek cavities. How odd, what turns ands twists and dead ends on the evolutionary path led us to develop this way?

Burj Dubai intrigues me as it rises far above the troubled palm island crooked fairyland that is Dubai. The views and the statistics are out of this world impressive, everything else to do with it is much more flaky, tacky and worrying for the investors.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Songs they don't play on the radio

A busy week socially, mainly hitting the high spots and mingling with some fellow debutantes in D.C. Ali chose to wear a nice red cocktail dress, some eyeliner along with a blond wig, I stuck on a cute little toupee, a sickly smile and a false nose. Oh what a laugh, dining out with the strange freedom that goes with assumed names and identities along with the thrill of gatecrashing. Then it was back to reality and a 7/11 in Crystal City for a slice of warm four cheese pizza and some Welch's Grape Juice.

Meanwhile Christmas looms like a grey cloud of confusion on the rainy horizon. Susan Boyle will compete with some X-Factor shadow for the No1 spot and Christmas specials and four year old films will block the schedules. I'm already planning my holiday, sitting in a corner drinking Pepsi Raw, eating Milky Ways and watching Gary, Tank Commander on i.player. Simple things etc.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A message from Cellophane Land

It came down the chimney, silent, unexpected and covered with soot, a message sent to us here in the Substantial World from those in the Cellophane World. A flimsy cellophane explorer and ambassador sent out in the wild weather on an impossible mission it seems. What did the message say? We don't know and never will as it burnt up on first contact with the Substantial World atmosphere. Jings and Crivens! The loss is almost unbearable.

Smucker's Goober (Grape)

Note the prefect colours and textures mingling in the highest form of open sandwich art.

Many Scottish people are naturally suspicious of normal and benign American products, often viewing then as either some cultural threat or a subversive attempt to Americanise the stalwart if little retarded Scottish mindset. I have no truck with this piffle having decided many years ago to like what I like and dislike what I dislike regardless of petty boundary issues. Seems simple enough to me.

So (this is of course a boring bit of idealistically bankrupt food blogging) today I cracked open a jar of Mr Rufus T Fireflies' finest Smucker's Grape Goober. The jar was purchased in some PB&J emporium in the US a few months ago and smuggled across the border under cover of darkness in a well constructed carpet bag with a secret pocket.

Spread generously on some of Ms Graham's stylish almost warm home made bread accompanied by a thin layer of yellow spreading buttery stuff it made the perfect lunch for a hungry young buck such as I was, or may have been at the time (M'Lud). This experience reminded me of some of the great sandwiches of the century (not sure which one) and creates an excuse for another dumb and self indulgent list. For the purposes of clarity and the relief of the young pilgrims' reading I'll leave out the Smucker's PB&J:

1) (Cheap) Strawberry Jam and Digestive biscuit on Scottish plain bread. A classic, needs to be well lubricated with butta'.

2) Pret a Manger's "Crayfish and Rocket" - a regular diversion for me when travelling through Stanstead Airport and proof that I'm not mean and that I don't eat pish, working class food all the time (sic).

3) Fried egg and brown sauce (egg not too runny either) on white pan loaf. Place an open Daily Record, the Queen's Speech 2009 or a copy of the Koran in your lap in case of yolk spillage. Fat chips can be substituted should a suitable egg not be available.

4) Lightly toasted brown bread with a thin scrapping of spread and Marmite. The hippie's delight as a late breakfast piece, the ensemble completed with a screw-tap of Irn-Bru to help reduce the tremors, boost energy levels and ease possible flashbacks and paranoia attacks.

5) Shell pie on a roll. Never an easy feat to accomplish as there are significant logistical problems to resolve primarily involving being near to a reputable baker's shop and then sourcing the two main ingredients at an appropriate level of quality. Once this has been done they need to be carefully mated in a similar way to a live warhead and a missile. One slip at this tricky stage and a snacking disaster or possible pie based explosion can occur. Not to be attempted whilst driving or as a passenger in a white van.

End of lesson - go forth and snack.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

2012 and beyond

As I expect to retire around 2015 I'll still be pension dodging in 2012, sadly now a likely date for that old chestnut, the end of the world. Luckily we've conceived a clever plan to meet up on Arthur's Seat along with our trusty waterproof torches, that should avoid any rapture or raptor or respite complications. Just remember that no one knows the date or the hour and that the lightning will flash from the east to the west so it could all get a bit messy but we'll be the ones signaling across the Forth to our friends and family in Fife come the big wave.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Institute for Human Continuity

So one day the simple children of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster met up with the complicated but generally good people of the Institute for Human Continuity. Confused? You should be. We'll find out how many raspberries, cheesecakes and swizzle sticks to award tomorrow.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Please don't label me

But should you wish to...the simple but painful facts are that I am or have been a number of different and contradictory things at times:

Celtic, white & spotty, Caucasian, Gypsy, East Coaster, Fifer, Scottish, British, European, working class, straight, socialist, nationalist, fascist, punk, hippy, freak, short-arse, married, divorced, balding, brown eyed, Masonic, Dunfermline Athletic follower, Presbyterian, Church of Scotland, Christian, Buddhist, self obsessed, self righteous, misunderstood, Army Cadet, Boy Scout, student, alien, apprentice, trainee, leader, manager, director, atheist, elitist, humanist, existentialist, vegetarian, abused, bullied, bully, hedonistic, carnivore, parent, child, grandparent, son, consumer, smoker, drinker, blogger, dreamer, jogger, cyclist, motorist, pedestrian, victim, angry neighbour, floating-voter, artisan, film buff, reader, bearded man, coffee drinker, shoplifter, gardener, blood donor, smart, scruffy, middle-aged, pension dodger, musician, credit cruncher, Silver Surfer, Baby Boomer, Generation X wannabe, bewildered, cantankerous and grumpy but slightly marvelous old bugger.

Of course I'm regularly into denial on quite a number of these historical labels and some others I simply can't remember.

God save us from the evangelical humanists with too much spare cash for campaigns. Is it a bit early to wish one and all a Merry Christmas? - whatever that means.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Beatles

It appears that in a parallel universe slightly left of here or even East of Z the Fab Four never did break up. Jane Asher doesn't do cakes and I presume Yoko met some other bloke...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Japan for a fiver

Yes it is possible. Just to settle an argument that I've never had with anybody, ever in my life. Poor Man's Noodles.

So what about that last episode of Dr Who? How scary was that? So there is water on Mars as well as the Moon. Reassuring.

Philosophy is not so tough

These guys don't say much but their thoughts are priceless - Plato, Lao Tzu, Arther Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. They also double as fridge magnets but the door is overcrowded (see below), so they reside on a bookshelf adjacent to a digital radio, books and some useful "Believe in God" spray. It's really a utility shelf for existential emergencies. They crop up around here now and again.

I have a theory about famous philosophers: most if not all were hampered by having a malfunctioning sense of their own space. They were the kind of people who were never quite sure where and how they fitted in, sometimes they were in your face, on your elbow or just generally invading some other no-go zone. After some struggles with continually bumping into people and being a source of annoyance they retreated into their own private space to think and write heavy philosophical books hoping that one day once the books might be read and published. Then once they have established a philosophical and literary reputation they can come out of hiding and invade space again and start a series of pointless circular arguments nobody can really be bothered with - all because they never learned the extended elbow rule. Sad.

It may well be that you do not, as yet know the extended elbow rule, if that is the case then you might want to click here, or not as the case may be. Whatever you do be mindful that you have a choice.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chocolate Swatch

Now I can tell the time accurately (shame about everything else)

Thanks (very much you thieving bastards) to getting robbed by the white van Druid, New Age Travelling Furry Freak and Chav Brothers Society a few months ago my lifetime assets have now increased by about 100%. I wisely spent all of my share of the money from the Victim Support Agency (only available in Scotland, read the small print if you can read) on a fine chocolate watch but one guaranteed not to melt Dali style. It's nicely chunky, bullet and bomb proof and without any noticeable ticks - ideal for all forms of time travel (one of my regular pursuits). I'll be completely happy with it as soon as I can discover how to get the tin opener blade and corkscrew out of the winder hole. Get it here on Amazon or any other participating South American waterway.

What to eat on a cold Sunday

Salad should of course always be served at room temperature as opposed to fridge temperature. The trick is getting rooms to room temperature and more importantly what is room temperature anyway, in darkest November here in the West Lothian outback?

Difficult dietary issues

We've finally established that donkeys don't get squished into UK cat food, neither do horses or kangaroos, however Japan sticks with a high fish content as you'd expect, not sure about the rest of the world. That got me thinking about the contents of burgers (but not hot dogs, that's too far) and what might be acceptable to the Scottish palette. I can't see any cultural or ethical reasons why they can't make it into the meaty part of cheeseburgers so I'll assume they are there and in order to maintain the fine balances required for my immune and digestive systems to operate I'll stick to one double CB a week.

P.S. Apologies for the excessive use of brackets above but they are my favourite punctuation and I'm not sorry at all.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Water on the moon

Wot? No sauce on those good looking chips?

A typical Saturday afternoon at Knockhill: Champers, chips and a trophy for the eventual winner of the 2009 Trumper virtual F1 Challenge, so the triumphant winning team leader (of the neatly named Zoom Zooms) enjoys a well earned cuppa tea. Meanwhile back in the pits and car park I think I want a Nissan Skyline, that's a pretty immature but predictable thought.

Meanwhile on the karting track there was a certain amount of wet weather mayhem, slips and skids but the Trumpers finished strongly running out clear winners. The Barclays however hoovered up the minor places mainly thanks to a decent fried breakfast and a strong sense of fear and fair play. Karting in bad light and rain is a challenge but he views are nice.

Nice to hear they've found ten buckets of water on the moon, I'd imagine the water came from some crashed asteroid, not sure about the buckets though.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Love at first bite

"I feel wonderful because I see that love light in your eyes..."

It was a relationship that I'd never have expected to see blossom but strangely enough the Light-Up HP Mouse and the Hamburger Phone do seem to be shaping up rather well in the early stages of their romance. They've spent quite a lot of time together, mostly alone in the quiet of the dining room getting to know one another but it has reached to the point where I'm feeling a bit odd walking in on them unannounced. Perhaps I should knock or just cough a little before slowly entering the room. Anyway they make a cute couple and despite a few fundamental differences in voltage, functions, circuitry and ethnic backgrounds (Hamamastu, Japan and Jiaxing, China respectively) I think they'll do fine. They've come along way to get this far and I just need to make sure that they don't meet up with the rather aggressive electric can opener residing in the kitchen.

So what about Meccano? James May seems to be to blame for this latest outburst of spanner and Allen Key activity (I recall when AK was a simple screwdriver). Unbridled nostalgia and a fair amount of boredom have resulted in experiments surrounding "roll-over" or "self-righting" go-carts made from Meccano's best. We need to do a bit more work on this but at least there is a prototype to experiment with. We're actually doing a trial run at Knockhill tomorrow.

As about to be featured on BBC's "Top Gear" - note the ironic lack of gears, cogs and mechanisms of any kind.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

German cinema

The original soundtrack.

In a curious twist, caught in a spiral of slinky manoeuvres and non-mechanical skids, that old devil called Karma once again has dealt us an odd and unexpected hand. Our marvelous and free to air music is going to feature in a film documentary currently being put together in Germany, more details to follow. Did I ever tell you how much I love German cinema? See you at the Oscars (foreign language section).

Today the cat's discovered rotisserie chicken. They went mad, the civil war and diplomatic cat crisis came to a sudden and swift end as they shared a common goal, to get a piece of that hot and tasty chicken. Every cat has his or her price.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The day I downloaded myself

A day much like any other...

It’s a peculiar life being a minor musician or a songwriter in these digital times. The market is flooded with home made, self penned, desk top designed and published up material that each hopeful musician sees as his or her finest work. Most of it remains out there, undiscovered on the web, in dusty CD piles or trotted out occasionally for a live performance in the back room of some good humoured pub or community centre. Once in a while there will be a solitary sale, some feedback or a blog comment before the continued pursuit of vigorous anonymity resumes. If, as we are, you are content with this fate then really it’s ok, your small mark has been made, your time bomb has been planted and the fevered act of creation has now cooled into something substantial and complete though naturally now framed in obscurity. So if you want more how do you console yourself, how do you justify the effort, possible expenditure and the slow realisation that your works in a long queue to be heard and discovered? The still, small voice tells you that the odds of them being heard or appreciated by any kind of reasonable audience are lottery sized or worse.

One answer is to give it away, forget the prices, the costs, the penny a play sites and the rip-off merchants who charge you $100 to be stigmatized on some compilation that may or may not make the earshot of some mobile phone advertising exec. Just give it away, again and again. Life is too short to wait on the ting of the cash register and the lengthy delays from third party provider payouts or for some drunken punter to argue over £3 for a CD - and you don’t really need that pointless anxiety. In the last few months we’ve had over 3000 free listens and 100 free downloads compared to no CD sales, 1 itunes sale and a few cents of streaming money. Relax and give it away and enjoy the vicarious pleasure of having multitudes of unseen, singleton listeners – and even if things get tough you'll never ever feel you need to explain or justify another CD spectacle to friends or family.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Drivel from the fifth estate

So the relentless documentation of the trivial, the pointless and the terminally annoying goes on proving the deep truth that fiction is often more interesting than facts and that inspired fiction is often better than fact - and more accurate. Fellow members of the Fifth Estate (which you are if you are reading this) I salute you, half hearted as ever.

Today started badly thanks to a deep depression of ghostly fog that descended like fluffy frozen cheese over everything and most notably on my car, a classic Monday morning start, getting angry at frost. Weather anger is neither useful nor able to be channeled in a positive direction so it remains inside, pent up and throbbing on the twenty minute drive to work. In fog you cant help but notice that all drivers who have their hi-vis lights on in normal weather leave them switched off in fog as if in some perverse tribute. Some poor souls decided that to drive across the Forth Bridge in thick fog with no lights was a good idea, clearly these people are having a worse morning than me.

Coffee is a killer, please do not be fooled by the hype and step away from the Starbucks. It's bitter, powdered, milky crap hoovered up like wild cocaine from exploited farmers and served to irresponsible members of the public who cant understand the rules of engagement for their car's fog lights. It also makes you pee worse than cold German Lager with one cup resulting in at least a litres worth of foggy urine. Then when the warm, coffee rich urine hits the coastal sewage farm sprays and atomisers after its long journey from the city in cold weather...

Video games suck but I wish I had the basic skills and span of attention and concentration to play and complete one. Maybe it's more coffee I need.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Fray Bentos pie memory

Missie the cat looks down from her lofty fortress in the high basket country. (105 known mouse kills)

Anna, the new (old) kit in town. (1 known mouse kill)

Missie the cat woke be this morning with her muddy paws and a presentation pack containing a recently deceased mouse, nothing unusual there then. One thing did however arouse my slowly waking senses and that was the distinct aroma of Fray Bentos steak and kidney pie that seemed to be hanging in the air around the still warm mouse cadaver.

I've a lot of happy memories associated with the old FB pies, once a staple part of my diet, so for a few moments I ignored the actual mouse and drifted back to those FB days (mid 70s I'd say). It goes like this: after a long shift in Paisley Gas works it was home to the cosy log cabin in Pollockshields for an FB pie, hot from the black black oven (no other superfluous foods were added) and a "screw tap" of Whitbread Pale Ale. This was followed by a fag and a relaxing listen to Little Feat's "Sailing Shoes" or possibly "The Grand Wazoo" by Frank V Zappa. Then down to the pub with Sheba the Alsatian for a tussle with the locals and some fairly spaced conversations. (Sheba didn't add much intellectual quality to the conversation but neither did I).

For a while I thought that Fray Bentos meant from "Bentos", then after staring into some school atlas I discovered that there was no actual "Bentos" but there was a Fray Bentos, stuck at the edge of the rain forest full of pie and corned beef factories, or so I imagined, there far away on the dreamy Brazilian coast or in the jungles of Uruguay - I can' remember. A place well worthy of a visit for any self respecting carnivore.

At this point the mist lifted from my eyes and I picked up the dead mouse in a tissue and disposed of it by flipping it over the hedge - funny about that pie-mouse smell though. It's left me wondering could I, would I ever eat another FB pie? It's been 35 long years...

Barclay Jnr scored a proper hat trick today (3 solo crackers in 15 minutes) against the best of Pittenweem. The reward? £5 cash up front, a large McD's vanilla shake and two salmon and cream cheese bagels (ex-Ali's kitchen).

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Soccer Am in the afternoon

What a drag it is getting old. My first long lie in in a month and I couldn't hack it - there was a cat staring down at me from the top of the wardrobe. No sleep till Broxburn and I'm on the couch dozing through Soccer AM, the crossbar challenge and showboating. I feel like I'm staring at goats sometimes, trying to move from room to room, couch to couch and eating sausage sandwiches to the tune of Saturday morning TV.

Hopefully few of the garden birds suffer from nut allergies. There are now five dispensers of various nutty and warming products, all of which will produce warm feathers and bright eyes, pretty much one feeder for each little bird. God bless them these winter months, I hope they take advantage of the offer.

We hovered around the great Herris fence that is Edinburgh town centre, only for long enough to undertake essential transfers of currency and odd items from the great halls of Jenners and Co. Christmas is coming it seems but you can forget the trees. The bright lights of Morningside float past and light up a hundred interesting shops and restaurants, most of which we will never visit. Today I was a passenger.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

20000 people standing in a field

The multitudes...

...are amazed by the pagan spectacle.

It's nice to get out and socialize once in a while, meet a few folks, compromise personal space and gasp at burning chemicals fizzing far above your head. So by the light of our faithful torches we crossed the fields to the gardens of Hopetoun and for about an hour stared into the burning sky. Phone pictures do not of course capture very much of the detail at all. For a few short moments it seemed as if the world was ending in a flash of bangs and in bangs of flashes, then there was some generous applause and we all trudged home (or back to your car if you were unfortunate enough to have brought one).

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Ordinary things

Today I ate an upside down steak pie while standing up, quite normally but I may have been sitting at the time. Two Muller corners were consumed earlier in a bid to remove a small cloud of cold germs that were hovering close by. It was all rather ordinary but I admired the overall geometry and the general tick-over.

Tomorrow the huge bonfire at Hopetoun House has summoned us to it's fiery interior. We will make a rare and shadowy appearance in the winter darkness. Effigies will be burned, trees scorched and the cold earth made warm once again.

Monday, November 02, 2009

If you are feeling sinister

Now is the winter of our general, seasonal driven discontent and mood swings. The weather is playing havoc with football arrangements, sandbagging, buying petrol, driving conditions and generating nasty little drafts. We are keeping our heads down, enjoyed free bonfire tickets and living frugally on salad, seafood and cauliflower cheese as is the custom round these parts. I've also watched some strange movies, the best bits being falling asleep during chunks of the Exorcist. Not a patch on the Fantastic Mr Fox - go and see him today.